Thursday, March 19, 2020

Amusing: High Temps, Humidity Reduce COVID-19 Transmission

Paper by four Chinese professors concludes that high temperatures and high relative humidity significantly reduce the transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus.

This conclusion is based on a study of all 100 Chinese cities with more than 40 cases of the virus.

The professors found that a one degree Celsius increase in temperature and a one percent increase in relative humidity lower “R” by 0.0383 and 0.0224, respectively.

“R” is the effective reproductive number of the virus. As I understand it, if that number drops below 1.0, it means the virus is dying off faster than it is reproducing.

The authors note that their findings are “consistent with the fact that the high temperature and high humidity significantly reduce the transmission of influenza.”

They conclude that “the arrival of summer and rainy season in the northern hemisphere can effectively reduce the transmission of the COVID-19.”

The study is also consistent with the findings of a paper I wrote about here. That study looked at average temperatures in areas across the globe that the virus was hitting at the time.

The Chinese study is a city-by-city comparison in the same country that controls for population density and GDP per capita.


Mandy Gunasekara Sworn in as EPA Chief of Staff

This week, Mandy Gunasekara began her tenure as Chief of Staff to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

“I am pleased that Mandy Gunasekara has rejoined us here at the Environmental Protection Agency to serve as our Chief of Staff to further our mission of protecting human health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “I am honored to have her join our team and help me lead the agency. I am confident that she will be a great success as we work to advance the Trump Administration’s environmental goals.”

“I am grateful for the opportunity to join a highly-effective team of experts. Continuing our nation’s environmental and public health progress is of the utmost importance. I intend to use my time, energy and resources helping Administrator Wheeler and President Trump achieve this noble goal,” said EPA Chief of Staff Mandy Gunasekara.

Mandy Gunasekara is a veteran Republican strategist and communicator with extensive experience in environmental issues. Most recently, Mrs. Gunasekara founded the Energy 45 Fund, a Jackson, Mississippi-based non-profit dedicated to informing the public about the energy, environmental and economic gains made under the Trump Administration.

Prior to Energy 45, Mrs. Gunasekara served as EPA’s Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. While at EPA, she spearheaded many of the Trump Administration's greatest energy and environmental policy achievements, including the Affordable Clean Energy rule. Mrs. Gunaskera also previously served as Majority Counsel for Chairman Inhofe, where she led committee actions and policy development on Clean Air Act and climate change issues.

A native Mississippian, Mandy earned a J.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Law and a B.A. from Mississippi College.

Widespread Praise for Mrs. Gunasekara’s Appointment:

U.S. Senator James Inhofe (OK): “Mandy Gunasekara did a fantastic job working for me on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee during my tenure as Chairman and she is a superb choice for EPA Chief of Staff. Not only does she bring her years of experience on environmental issues to the table, but she also has a heart for public service that is hard to come by. She will be a great asset to EPA Administrator Wheeler and the Trump Administration in this new role.”


Czech PM Urges EU To Ditch Green Deal, Focus On COVID-19

The Czech premier, whose country depends on nuclear energy and coal, said Monday (16 March) the European Union should ditch its landmark green law seeking carbon neutrality as it battles the novel coronavirus.

“Europe should forget about the Green Deal now and focus on the coronavirus instead,” Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told reporters, without explaining how the two are connected.

“Europe is now the biggest epicenter of the coronavirus in the world,” the billionaire populist added.

The EU unveiled a draft of the Green Deal earlier this month, mandating members to achieve net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.

But ex-communist EU members like the Czech Republic have announced much less ambitious plans as their energy sectors are still largely dependent on coal.

The Czech Republic has registered 344 cases of COVID-19, including three recovered patients. No one has died of the disease in the country of around 11 million people.

The Czech Republic recently closed its borders as well as schools, most shops, and cultural facilities and restricted free movement.

Earlier Monday, the government sent a special military plane to China to collect coronavirus test kits, and Babiš said another seven planes should follow suit.

He praised China for its handling of the contagion.

“Now that the epidemic is nearly over in China, the country is once again the biggest producer of medical material and the entire planet is going shopping in China,” said Babiš.

“We really have a lot to learn from China.”


UN should change course on climate

The UN’s climate action machinery is on the verge to collapse, beginning this November in Glasgow, Scotland. This time the annual climate summit, called COP 26, is most likely to end in complete disarray, even more than COP 25 did last year in Madrid, Spain.

The failure of COP 25 was widely noted with sadness, but Madrid was a minor COP, with little of substance on the table. In contrast COP 26 is hugely important. When it fails, the UN has to rethink its entire approach to climate action.

One of the six principles stated in CLINTEL’s World Climate Declaration captures the situation very succinctly. It says “Climate policy must respect scientific and economic realities.” If it does not, such a policy must fail. See

The scientific reality is that, as CLINTEL emphasizes, there is no climate emergency. The radicals insist that there is, but their claim has no basis, not even in alarmist science. The so called Climate Crisis is an emperor without clothes. It exists in computer models only.

The major economies, developed and developing, are simply not going to announce drastic new actions at COP 26, which is what the radicals are demanding. But in reality the reason is economic, which means political. Drastic action is both expensive and intrusive, requiring huge new taxes and unpleasant regulations, both imposing on how people live. No major government is in a position to do these things without showing its citizens clear benefits. Instead they are setting token targets decades away.

Aside: the U.S. Democrat presidential candidates are promising various drastic actions but it is not in the President’s power to take them. That is up to Congress and they are not that naive. Congress often ignores the President’s agenda.

There are several big issues that make COP 26 a super-COP, which is why it will fail. First, it is being hyped that the major economies will table bold new plans for cutting emissions under the Paris Accord. The EU might do this but that is all, and even that is uncertain if we take into account the fierce protests in their member states.

China and India have said they will not do it. The U.S. will have quit the Accord by then. Russia has no interest and Japan is busy building coal fired power plants to replace its mothballed nukes. Boris Johnson has said nothing about new immediate UK actions. He is fixated on 2050. Brazil has a populist president like Trump. And so it goes down the list of majors. There is no one there.

This lack of bold new actions is sure to enrage the radicals, just as it did in Madrid, only more so because Glasgow is being falsely billed as decisive. The radicals are likely to react by paralyzingly the process. It’s their way or no way.

But there is more, much more actually. The Paris Accord was adopted globally based on the promise of riches for the developing world. Specifically, a whopping one hundred billion dollars a year was supposed to start flowing in 2020, paid by the developed countries (especially America) to the developing ones.

It ain’t going to happen. America is out and nobody else has that kind of money. Obama promised it and he is long gone.

This failure makes a huge difference, because all of the present developing country plans for cutting emissions under the Paris Accord are specifically contingent on this money coming. If the developing countries cancel their plans, due to non-payment, then the Paris Accord is sunk. Instead of more ambition there will actually be a lot less. The climate machine collapses.

If this collapse occurs, which seems likely at this point, then the UN led alarmist establishment may be forced to rethink its direction.

Cutting emissions is called “mitigation” in UN-speak. There are three potential “tions” in climate policy — mitigation, compensation and adaptation. When compensation goes, mitigation goes with it.

CLINTEL’s stated position is that the climate science is far from settled and that climate change policy should focus on adaptation not mitigation. Adaptation always works, whatever the causes of change are. This is where the UN should go.

We all agree that there will always be floods, droughts, wildfires, heat waves and hurricanes, so the moderate skeptics can join with the moderate alarmists on this policy. It does not matter what causes the extreme weather, let’s just get ready for it. Same for modest sea level rise.

All things considered the collapse of COP 26 could be a wake up call for alarmism. The solution is already there: Think adaptation!

Time will tell.


Australia: Victoria lifts moratorium on onshore gas, but permanently bans fracking

The Andrews Labor government in Victoria has announced it will lift a moratorium on the exploration of onshore conventional gas reserves, but will enshrine a permanent ban on fracking and coal seam gas exploration in the state’s constitution.

The Victorian government will introduce two bills to parliament, with one effectively lifting a moratorium and allowing for a restart of onshore conventional gas exploration from 1 July 2021.

The second bill will seek to amend the Victorian state constitution, enshrining a permanent ban on fracking and coal seam gas exploration. Such amendments can be passed by the Victorian parliament, and it may not be necessary to be put to a vote by Victorian electors.

In lifting the moratorium, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said his government is responding to scientific findings, as well as delivering on an election promise to include fracking ban into the state’s constitution.

“We’re backing the science to create jobs, boost energy supply and support regional communities across the state,” Andrews said in a statement.

“We promised to enshrine our historic ban on fracking in the constitution and we’re delivering – to protect farming communities, and our huge food and fibre sector.”

Adding to this, Victorian minister for resources Jaclyn Symes said that the decision had followed an evaluation of scientific research on the environmental impacts of gas exploration which confirmed the need to lock in a ban on fracking but supported a restart to conventional gas exploration.

“Three years of research shows securing local gas supply for Victorians will not come at the cost of the state’s groundwater supplies, agricultural industries or our farming’s clean and green reputation,” Smyes said.

The Victorian government placed a moratorium on fracking within the state in 2017, which has attracted criticism from Coalition governments at both State and Federal levels, which have advocated for a ramping-up of Australian gas exploration.

The announcement follows the release of findings from a three-year study into Victoria’s gas resources, which concluded that the recommencement of onshore conventional gas exploration would not have “any material impact on ground and surface water quality or quantity.”

Additionally, the report found that ” the minimum, low and medium scenarios” for gas development would “have no material impact on existing farm industries, food and biosecurity” but may have a slightly negative impact under a “high” gas development scenario.

The assessment completed by the Geological Survey of Victoria estimated 128 to 830 petajoules of onshore gas reserves have been identified across Victoria. The extraction of this gas would be expected to contribute an additional 0.1 to 0.3 per cent to Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions, not accounting for emissions released through the use of the gas itself.

Federal energy minister Angus Taylor has said that a boost to Victoria’s gas production would be a core demand of any bilateral deal struck between the federal and Victorian governments on energy investment.

The NSW government has already struck such a deal, securing $1 billion in federal funding towards energy developments, and in return agreed to boost gas production by up to 90 petajoules a year.

“We would like to replicate [the NSW bilateral deal] in other states and Victoria is one we would like to do it with. I mean we’ve been very clear about the prerequisites for that but it is a deal we want to do. I’ve spoken with the Victorian Minister about it,” Taylor said.

“There’s been no secret that we want to see more gas in the system in Victoria.”

The lifting of Victoria’s moratorium on onshore conventional gas opens the door to Victoria striking a similar compromise with the federal government, which may see an increase in gas production facilitating federal government co-investment in clean energy projects.

The Energy Users Association of Australia welcomed the announcement and called on both the State and Federal governments to now boost the support of natural gas.

“While just supplying more gas isn’t a silver bullet that will solve all the issues in our gas markets, the increased competition and availability of supply is a critical step in the right direction,” EUAA CEO Andrew Richards said.

“State and Federal Governments must now move quickly to accelerate development of Victorian conventional gas reserves.  We encourage them to  work proactively together to ensure we not only get more gas flowing but enhance competition by supporting diversity if suppliers.”

The Victorian Greens labelled the decision to recommence onshore gas exploration as “disaster capitalism”, claiming that the Andrews government was using the coronavirus outbreak as an excuse to backtrack on the gas bans.

“It is truly appalling that the Victorian Labor Government is trying to pull the wool over our eyes by making this disastrous announcement in the middle of a pandemic. Opening up more drilling for gas is terrible for our farmers, environment and climate,” Victorian Greens environment spokesperson Ellen Sandell said.

“What kind of future is Dan Andrews planning for us?”

This was a criticism echoed by the Doctors for the Environment, who said that now was not the time to be rolling back environmental protections.

“As a health professional the timing of this announcement is entirely inappropriate. Gas is a polluting fossil fuel that puts Victorians’ health and safety at risk,” Doctors for the Environment spokesperson and GP Katherine Barraclough said.

“We’re facing an unprecedented health crisis at the moment with COVID-19, and the medical profession is stretched to the limit. Backpedalling on the onshore gas drilling ban at this time is an highly irresponsible move by the Andrews Government.”

Environmental groups likewise slammed the decision, saying that the lifting of the moratorium would work to undermine Victoria’s efforts to date to address climate change.

“Climate science makes it abundantly clear we need to keep most fossil fuels in the ground if we are to have a chance of avoiding dangerous climate change,” Friends of the Earth’s campaigns coordinator Cam Walker said.

“Today’s decision is a profound lapse of judgement by the Andrews government. One that undermines their other achievements on climate and energy policy”.

The moratorium was set to expire on 30 June of this year, and the Victorian government has said it will now commence work on the development of consultation guidelines and processes for the gas industry to engage with communities.

The Andrews government expects that the lifting of the moratorium could help generate more than $300 million in economic activity and support the creation of up to 6,400 jobs.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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